Manchester United missed the opportunity to move into the Champions League places as they conceded a 95th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Southampton at Old Trafford on Monday evening.
In a breathless opening half, Anthony Martial pounced on James Ward-Prowse’s error and raced through, but was denied by a smart Alex McCarthy save. While Ward-Prowse wasn’t punished for his lapse of concentration, moments later Paul Pogba was. The United midfielder was dispossessed by Danny Ings, who fed Nathan Redmond, and his cross was volleyed home by Stuart Armstrong.
Pogba soon made amends, as his pinpoint cross found Martial in the Southampton box. The French international teed up Marcus Rashford, who fired into the bottom corner. Martial got in on the act himself just two minutes later, giving United the lead with a superb solo effort and grabbing his 50th Premier League goal in the process.
The Saints came at United in the second half, and their pressure was eventually rewarded as Michael Obafemi headed home from Ward-Prowse’s corner to earn a last-gasp draw and possibly dent the hosts hopes of Champions League football next season.
Key Talking Point
It’s now 18 unbeaten in all competitions for United, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side really should have made it six wins on the trot. Once they got into their groove going forward and learnt to play over the Southampton press, the Red Devils had looked near impossible to stop.
The front four of Martial, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood have such an infectious swagger about them. Their creativity, imagination and movement makes them such a joy to watch and a nightmare to play against. The sheer speed at which they counter attacked was frightening.
However, the Red Devils invited Southampton onto them in the final 15 minutes, and they failed to hang on at the death as the three points slipped through their fingers.
Starting XI: De Gea (6), Wan-Bissaka (7), Lindelof (6), Maguire (6), Shaw (6), Pogba (6), Matic (6), Greenwood (6), Fernandes (8), Rashford (8), Martial (8*)
Subs: Fred (5), Williams (5), James(5), McTominay (5)
The game served up a blistering opening 25 minutes, and Martial was at the heart of everything. The forward should have opened the scoring when he raced through after dispossessing Ward-Prowse, but didn’t allow himself to simmer and stew on the miss.
Instead, he turned provider for Rashford to equalise with an excellent piece of centre forward play. Martial expertly controlled Pogba’s fizzing delivery, holding off three Southampton defenders before feeding Rashford.
The France international gave United the lead with a spectacular solo goal, menacingly driving inside and sending a curling effort into the top corner. The Red Devil’s front four are building quite the reputation for themselves, and Martial was the pick of the bunch on Monday evening.
Key Talking Point
in-form Southampton started brightly and were well deserving of their early lead. United struggled to cope with their energetic high press during the opening exchanges, and this paid dividends as Ings robbed Pogba in the build up to the Saints’ opener.
It was a good performance from the Saints – they created positive openings, enjoyed long spells of possession in the United half and ensured an uncomfortable evening for the Red Devils – but they were never quite as effective and dangerous as they had been in the opening 20 minutes.
But Southampton maintained steady pressure in the second half, and it eventually took its toll with a late equaliser.
Starting XI: McCarthy (6), Walker-Peters (5), Stephens (6), Bednarek (6), Bertrand (7*), Armstrong (7), Ward-Prowse (6), Romeu (5), Redmond (6), Adams (5), Ings (7)
Subs: Long (5), Smallbone (5), Obafemi (6)
The Southampton left back was given the unenviable task of marking the in form Greenwood. The teenager has proved too much for the majority of sides to handle since the Premier League restarted.
However, he endured one of his quieter nights on Monday, largely thanks to the performance of Bertrand. He stayed tight and didn’t give Greenwood an inch. A mature, resilient display from Bertrand.
Both sides are back in action on Thursday evening. Manchester United travel to Crystal Palace, while Southampton welcome fellow south coast side Brighton to St Mary’s.